i'm working on a piece about the mental health benefits of various outdoor activities—have been all summer, actually, as the book that led my editor to assign it to me was pushed back, and i'm only marginally better at juggling stories than i was around this time last year—and was invited to a guided meditation and walk across the brooklyn bridge, my first in-person Work Thing since last february. (there have been other invitations, but i remain awkward and picky.) i walked down to a fountain near city hall, signed a waiver, took a pair of glowing blue headphones, and wondered if i was being invited to join a cult. (i had just watched the "moira rosĂ©" episode of schitt's creek.)* i had intended to secret-shop the session, but i ended up introducing myself to the program's creator and leader and interviewing him with my phone while my commuter sweat dried. a hundred other people showed up, we all fired up our tech and formed a circle around the fountain to set our intentions, and atmospheric piano music tinkled into my ears.

thunderheads boiled across the river almost immediately and our leader encouraged us to "choose the rain" ("it's only water"). in a low, smooth masseur's voice, he talked us across the bridge and through the downpour; i both love summer storms and have been contending with exotic personal weather, so i was all for the walk's spontaneous metal subtheme. water cascaded down a concrete staircase with us and fizzled against a halal cart that emerged from the steam at its foot. we huddled under the brooklyn side of the bridge like an aspiring new-age rat king, and a handful of participants accepted the invitation to return their headsets and walk some other time; the rest of us funneled into the park. i believed our leader when he said he was impressed with the rest of us.

i probably don't need to say that the walk felt like a third installment in this summer's Lauren Learns and Grows Through Kooky Participatory Events. i made a silent promise to myself and tearily high-fived a tree in a walled garden; i joined a final circle at the edge of the river and, when invited to share my name and a word, leaned into a bean-sized microphone and said i'm lauren and i'm regenerating.

*two high school friends and i went to a house party in oxford that turned out to be a cult recruitment session, complete with weird crackers, a long-haired, moon-faced guru who ostensibly didn't speak english, and a mysterious assistant who refused to give us back our shoes when we realized what was going on and said we wanted to leave.


furiousmuse said...

regenerating. i like it. it reminds me of “powaqqatsi: life in transformation.” are you familiar with the film?

lauren said...

i haven't seen the cycle yet, but i've been meaning to get to it forever!

much emphasis on the roiling water as we looked out on the storm-churned harbor, enhanced, i would argue, by the volleyball that sailed by against the current? you do you, brooklyn.

Laramie said...


Hannah Mae said...

OK but did you leave in your stocking feet, or have to stay til the end of the cult pitch, or have to resort to threats to get your shoes back?

(A friend had a mirror image story about visiting a "meditation center" in a big weird old house in SF: there were only two other people at the event he came for, but scores of shoes in the rack at the entrance to the otherwise completely silent house.)

lauren said...

Threats for sure!